Father seeks safety measures at Dublin apartments after death of infant son

Boy fell from window after mother put him to bed, inquest told

Elizabeth Laffan at the Coroner’s Court inquest into the death of  Sebastian Pereira Kus (21 months) at Store Street, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Elizabeth Laffan at the Coroner’s Court inquest into the death of Sebastian Pereira Kus (21 months) at Store Street, Dublin. Photograph: Gareth Chaney/Collins

Mon, Mar 25, 2013, 19:02

The father of an infant who fell to his death from an apartment block said yesterday he would not wish what he is going through on his worst enemy.

Following the inquest into his son’s death, Kamil Kus called on the management company in charge of The Tramyard apartments in Inchicore, Dublin 8, to take measures to prevent another death like his son’s.

“I really don’t want anyone to feel the same as we do right now. I would not wish it on my worst enemy,” he said.

Sebastian Pereira Kus was just 21 months old when he fell 16m to the ground from a fourth-floor apartment at the complex on April 25th last year.

Dublin Coroner’s Court heard he pushed open a window despite safety restrictors designed to prevent it widening more than a few centimetres. Gardaí described the restrictors as “flimsy” and easily dislodged.

Windows closed

Sebastian’s mother, Emmanuele Pereira Kus, said she put the boy to bed, which was against the wall underneath the window ledge, at 9.30am, making sure the window handles were closed and shutting the curtains.

She was in the adjacent sitting room and became aware that something was wrong only 30 minutes later, when a firefighter called to her door.

She ran in to check on Sebastian. “He wasn’t in his bed and the bedroom window was open. I ran over to the window, I looked out and I saw Sebastian lying on the ground below,” she said.

Head injuries

The alarm had been raised by a neighbour who noticed a child lying on the ground with his body “crumpled”.

He was taken to Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Crumlin where he died later that day from severe head injuries sustained in the fall.

Ms Pereira Kus said that following the accident she tried to re-enact how Sebastian pushed open the window and sometimes the safety restrictors would “pop up”.

“Sebastian was a very smart child. He was always exploring, trying to learn everything. He loved music and especially loved to dance. He was very cuddly and always giving me hugs and kisses,” she said.

The couple’s landlady, Elizabeth Laffan, said that when she let out the apartment to the family four months earlier “all safety catches were working on all windows” and she had shown the couple how to use them.

No key was provided to lock the windows, the court heard.

Scenes-of-crime examiners found that the safety restrictors were faulty. Garda Mark Holohan said they were “not robust” and looked “flimsy”.

Coroner Brian Farrell noted the windows had not been child proofed and the safety restrictors appeared “very fragile”. “Their suitability must be questioned,” he said.

It was not the first time the court had heard an inquest where a child had died as a result of unsafe windows, he said.

Appeal to landlords

“I would appeal to all landlords of tenants with children to ensure that child proofing is addressed,” he said.

He returned a verdict of death by misadventure. He will write to the management company – identified by Ms Laffan as Keenan Management – recommending it address the issues raised during the inquest.

Speaking following the inquest, Mr Kus said the couple are expecting another son. “We are thinking how he would have played with Sebastian. How good he would be for him and would have looked after him. It is always going to be on your mind, it is like a scar for your life and you cannot erase it,” he said.